If it's crap ... We'll tell you
I had intended on seeing this last week on its pre-screening, but due to the London Spill Party, that idea got squashed. And I had to wait until I returned before returning to the cinema to see if the hype had been worth the wait. Because not since... Toy Story 3 almost, has a movie been met with such anticipation, has it all been worth it? Let's go take a look, and for the fans in the U.S., I'll try to keep this spoiler-free as best as I can.
The story opens with Nick Fury, who has led a team to the discovery of the Tesseract, a device which may be the source for limitless, free energy. The cube however becomes "aware" and unstable, opening a portal through which the Asgardian Loki emerges from. Taking the Tesseract, he escapes the facility, much to the worry of Nick Fury.
In response to this, he returns to the secret agency SHIELD, and attempts to activate a long-passed programme called the Avengers Initiative. The goal of which, is to bring together the world's best minds, in order to fight off any evil which the world cannot defeat on its own. The first such person he approaches is Natasha Romanoff, or, Black Widow, an extremely accomplished assassin and tactician. As the team grows, it takes in Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and Bruce Banner (The Hulk).
They set out in pursuit of Loki, who is attempting to stabilise the Tesseract, in order to bring an outer-world army to Earth and take control over the human race. However, their fight to capture Loki is not the only one, as they also must learn to trust each other as well, in an organisation where suspicion can tear everything apart. Loki uses this rift to his advantage, and the Avengers must find the level ground in order to stand any chance of fighting off the in-coming assault. While at the same time, re-claiming the Tesseract from those who would use it to claim ultimate power.
That summarises the plot pretty well here, but I am sure the dedicated fans will see masses of space for the development of the characters to happen within these arcs. If you have seen any of last summer’s blockbuster hits, then you will have a good idea of how this will run, because it is at heart an origin story too. Except in this case, it is the origin of the team, where they all are fighting in the same time, for the same common goal. And it pulls this off very well I must say, each character retains their unique characteristics, and the writing allows for some fun and interesting interactions between them. Some are focussed upon more than others, such as Iron Man, but all in all they made a good compromise. Even the likes of Black Widow and Hawkeye get plenty screen time, and didn't at all feel like the unnecessary inclusions I was worried they'd be.
The opening act does a lot of groundwork and running between storylines, there's a lot to cover to bring the audience up-to-scratch, and at one or two points it can be a bit over-whelming. But everything is indeed covered and cemented in place, and still manages to incorporate some very good action sequences as a taste for what's to come. Whether you are only familiar with the recent movies, or a big Marvel fan, you'll be satisfied with all that's here. The second act covers a large action set piece on board an aircraft, as well as a significant pivoting point in the story. It's an area I won't spoil, but its execution was a bit of a mixed bag. Some points worked great, while others were leant upon a little too heavily. This movie steams along at a ferocious pace, so when it slows it feels like it's dragging its feet a little. You will notice it as it passes by, and for some it may mean more than it did to me, but it wasn't the kind of slow-point that was detriment to it.
And of course, the finale was the big action piece, and delivers on all the promises. The scale and complexity of everything that happens on screen is really impressive, and every member on the team has their moment to shine. The attacks land with brutal force, and are covered with wonderful detail. It never really becomes cluttered like what happened so often in Transformers; here it is made very clear who the enemy is, and where your attention should be focussed upon.
A lot of this is down to the camerawork, with which they used all the techniques to get the perfect shot and angles. It all feels.... very well planned, with each scene setting up the next one perfectly. The effects themselves aren't mind-blowing, but are more than enough to leave an impression. The big thing is that it's everywhere, rather than being one big bomb it is more like a cluster grenade, scattering the details across the screen. One element that let it down was the 3D, which although used in some sections, really never felt like it needed to be there at all. It just dimmed the lighting on everything, which is not what you want for a big blockbuster action film. If you can see this in 2D, definitely do so.
So, what else is there to mention? The performances were perfectly adequate, with Robert Donny Jr. and Samuel Jackson standing out for me. Some side-characters were a little flat in their performances, but never enough to bring down the movie as a whole. I felt that the three acts tied in together quite well and had a fluid motion for the most part. And the humour, although very hit-and-miss, did work sometimes. This will probably be best seen at a packed screening where you can enjoy the crowd cheering and laughing at everything on the screen. After all, it is a big-buck spectacle at the end of the day. The soundtrack is... plain, nothing spectacular, you will be very used to its style by this point.
And so to the rating, and I can certainly say that I had a really fun time at this one. It was on-par with what we saw last summer in terms of action and entertainment, there was more to see on the screen, but not too much more that made me really sit up and take notice. I'm not saying it was bad on any level, because it definitely wasn't, but it wasn't incredible. That said however, I will highly recommend seeing this one, in 2D if you can, because it opened the Marvel world just as much as you will have expected. I'll give this a Full Price (9/10) and say that it's a positive start to the summer of blockbusters.
Thanks for reading! ^__^